A reverse shoulder replacement occurs when the rotator cuff is so badly damaged that it cannot support normal function. In a normal shoulder replacement, the ball of the joint is reattached to the humerus as normal and the socket on the scapula. With a reverse shoulder replacement, this is reversed with the ball being placed on the scapula and the socket on the humerus. This allows the deltoid muscle to be used to take up some of the slack since the shoulder will no longer have the use of the rotator cuff muscles. By screwing the ball into the scapula and cementing the socket to the humerus, the doctor can recreate a normally functioning joint, only in reverse.
One of the main benefits is to eliminate the badly damaged ball and socket of a severely arthritic joint. This will reduce the pain and inflammation of the condition and provide an increased range of motion and improved flexibility that is no longer limited by scar tissue or excessive amounts of inflammation that has damaged the joint and surrounding structures for many years. Once a person has had a shoulder replacement or reversed shoulder replacement, their doctors will take great care to ensure the patient follows their orders and does not damage or re-injure the area. If a person follows their doctor's orders, they will normally regain their range of motion and the rest of their strength in a relatively short period of time.
Just as with any other type of surgical procedure, surgery will take anywhere from four to eight weeks to fully heal. Because of how mobile the shoulder is, the amount of healing time will be mostly dependent on the patient. If they follow the doctor's orders, the healing will go smoothly. If they do not, the healing time may be extended for a much longer time. The shoulder joint is constantly in motion. If the joint is to fully heal, that motion must be limited for a short period of time. Once the bones and connective tissue has started to heal, the patient can gradually begin to strengthen the muscles and other soft tissues in the area.